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Idaho Senator Mike Crapo admits to drunken driving

Republican U.S. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho is pictured in this police booking photo from the Alexandria Police Department taken December 23
Republican U.S. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho is pictured in this police booking photo from the Alexandria Police Department taken December 23

By Colleen Jenkins

(Reuters) - Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho pleaded guilty on Friday to a charge of drunken driving, apologized for breaking his Mormon faith's prohibition against alcohol and asked for public forgiveness.

Crapo, who previously had said he doesn't drink, was pulled over on December 23 for running a red traffic signal in Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington suburb. Police arrested the three-term senator after he failed field sobriety tests.

"In recent months, and for less than a year, I have on occasion had alcoholic drinks in my apartment in Washington, DC," Crapo said in a lengthy statement after his court appearance.

"It was a poor choice to use alcohol to relieve stress — and one at odds with my personally held religious beliefs."

Crapo, Idaho's senior senator who won his most recent term in 2010 with 71 percent of the vote, said he made an even worse decision on the night of his arrest to drink and then go for a drive to "try to wind down."

He said he drove for approximately 30 to 40 minutes before realizing it was a mistake to get behind the wheel. He was stopped by a police officer as he headed back to his apartment, Crapo said.

Crapo, 61, was alone in his car at the time. Police said his blood alcohol content was 0.11 percent, above the 0.08 percent limit at which Virginia considers a driver intoxicated.

On Friday, Crapo said he was "profoundly sorry" for embarrassing his family, constituents, colleagues and church with his actions and grateful no one had been physically hurt.

"I will carry through on the appropriate measures for repentance, and I ask all of you for your forgiveness," he said.

In exchange for his plea to the misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated, Crapo received the standard suspended sentence of 180 days in jail, said Randy Sengel, the commonwealth's attorney for the city of Alexandria.

The senator will not serve any time behind bars as long as he displays good behavior for the next 12 months, Sengel said.

Crapo must pay a $250 fine and complete an alcohol safety program. His driver's license will be suspended for 12 months, but he can apply for a restricted license that would allow him to drive to and from work during certain hours, Sengel said.

As part of the agreement, the charge against Crapo for running the red light was dropped.

Crapo, a lawyer and married father of five, isn't up to run again until 2016. First elected to the Senate in 1998 after serving six years in the House of Representatives, he has built a conservative voting record in Congress.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by M.D. Golan and Richard Chang)

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